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Why Villarreal needs a center back worse than anything else

Raul Albiol and Pau Torres can’t do it all for Unai Emery this season.

RCD Espanyol v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

3,448. That’s how many minutes Raul Albiol played between the league and the Copa Del Rey last season. It’s the most on the team and it was played by a man who will be 35 next month. The next most minutes on the team? 3.093, played by his partner Pau Torres.

As we have been besieged by transfer link after transfer link to attacking players as the media tries to figure out who is going to replace Santi-Cazorla, I on the other hand am desperately trying to figure out why on earth Dimitrios Siovas is just about the only center back we’ve been linked with. Add to this the fact that Pau Torres has been linked to Manchester United and Barcelona, and I’m downright fearful about this coming season.

You just can’t rely on two players this much, especially when one of them is so old. When you look at the teams around us in the table, Sevilla leaned heavily on 27 year old Diego Carlos, but no other CB had more than 2307 league minutes. Similarly, Granada relied heavily on Domingos Duarte, but German Sanchez only played 2295.

The amount of minutes Pau played this year isn’t an issue. He’s a young player, we didn’t have European competition, he can handle it, but we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think Albiol’s production is sustainable for another year without more rest.

It is easy to write these numbers off as being artificially inflated due to the injury to Ramiro Funes Mori during the congested restart to the season. After all, the one time Chakla actually played down the stretch a turnover that led directly to a goal was his most noteworthy contribution. However, I don’t think I am alone in saying that my confidence in Funes Mori is not particularly high, and if we want to challenge on any front next year he should probably be our fourth CB option, not our third (and Chakla needs to be back in Segunda B).

I’m confident that we will invest in the squad this summer. The club has shown ambition in appointing Unai Emery. But I hope that ambition is combined with the common sense to address what may be the biggest need in the squad rather than just focusing on creative talents that aren’t ever going to fully replace Santi Cazorla anyway.